A pre-Remembrance Day ceremony at L.V. Rogers Secondary today included the unveiling of a piece of artwork listing every Nelson high school student killed in the two World Wars.
The framed poster, created by a Grade 12 student and sponsored by the grad class of 1954, contains 47 names — 11 from the First World War and 36 from the Second — and will hang on the school’s Wall of Fame.
Its genesis began a few years ago when historian Sylvia Crooks — a member of the class of ‘54 — noticed a plaque in the school that honoured former students killed at war contained many errors and omissions.
She sent the school a complete list based on her own research, and they invited her to take part in their November 11 ceremonies by reading out the names and meeting with a couple of classes.
She further suggested an updated memorial be created by a student — at their 50th year reunion, Crooks’ grad class donated money to the school to update its Wall of Fame, which recognizes distinguished alumni.
The project finally came together early this year.
“I went to my art teacher and said ‘I need a kid who’s brilliant, talented, interested in something like this, and here are the parameters,’” says vice-principal Tim Mushumanksi. “Luba Hall said instantly ‘I know exactly who.’”
Melissa Thompson, 17, was tapped because she had already created some military-themed artwork. Her father’s uncle Eric fought in World War II, and although she didn’t know him, she knew about his exploits as a medic.
Thompson created a rough sketch, with poppies in one corner and portraits of some of the students-turned-soldiers in another, as depicted in Crooks’ book, Homefront and Battlefront: Nelson, BC in World War II.
Then she started on the real thing, using liquid acrylic for the imagery and a calligraphic pen for the names.
“It took three weeks to do, probably a couple of hours a night,” Thompson says. “I didn’t think it would be that big a project when I started.”
She’s happy how it turned out. The names appear under the title The Fallen Heroes of L.V. Rogers Secondary School (although technically it was still Nelson High School when they attended).
Crooks is delighted with the outcome.
“I’m pleased the high school’s gone ahead with the new memorial plaque and the job this young student has done,” she says.